By The Sports Xchange
CLEVELAND — The two major league teams with the longest World Series droughts battled through six games, winning three games apiece.READ MORE: Colonial Pipeline returns to 'normal operations' after restart
Wednesday night, it is winner take all.
Addison Russell’s grand slam capped a seven-run assault over the first three innings as the Chicago Cubs rolled to a 9-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday to even the World Series.
The teams will play a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. The Cubs will attempt to become the sixth team in history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a World Series.
The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, and the Indians haven’t won the championship since 1948.
“It’s been a well-contested series between two outstanding teams,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Maybe it’s apt that we go seven games.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said, “Tonight was a tough night, but it’s an honor to be a part of this. It will be exciting to come to the ballpark tomorrow. Shoot, I just might wear my uniform home.”
Kris Bryant had four hits, including a home run, for the Cubs, who capitalized on a huge defensive misplay by the Cleveland outfield that led to a three-run first inning.
A catchable fly ball hit by Russell that would have been the third out of the inning dropped in safely between center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, allowing two runs to score and giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead that deflated the sellout crowd.
Russell, who was just 4-for-19 (.211) in the first five games of the Series, went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and a World Series record-tying six RBIs.
Most of the damage came off Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, who was charged with six runs in 2 1/3 innings. Tomlin (0-1) allowed six hits and a walk without striking out a batter.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta (2-0) pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts.
“When we were down 3-1 (in the series), it was take it a game at a time and try to get to Game 7, and we got there,” Bryant said.
Bryant, Anthony Rizzo (three hits, home run), Ben Zobrist and Russell were a combined 11-for-19 with three home runs and nine RBIs. Jason Kipnis had three hits for the Indians.
Tomlin retired the first two batters of the game, then threw two quick strikes past Bryant. It was all downhill from there for Cleveland.READ MORE: Disney World changes mask requirements for guests
Bryant hit a 0-2 hanging curveball an estimated 433 feet into the left field bleachers.
“A hanging curve is my favorite pitch to hit,” Bryant said. “There’s a good chance it’s going to go far.”
Rizzo followed with a line-drive single to center, and Zobrist lined a single to right, putting runners at first and third with two outs.
Russell then hit a fly ball. Naquin and Chisenhall converged on the ball, but neither one caught it. The ball dropped between the two miscommunicating fielders for a gift double, scoring Rizzo and Zobrist and giving Chicago a quick 3-0 lead.
“I thought it would be caught,” Russell said. “It was a routine play.”
Francona said, “Lonnie went hard after it, as he should, but that’s Naquin’s ball. As Lonnie was pulling off, Naquin was yelling, ‘It’s yours. You got it.’ I told Nake, ‘That’s your ball. Take it.’ He kind of made it hard on Lonnie.”
The Cubs blew the game open with a four-run third inning. Kyle Schwarber led off the inning with a walk. After Bryant flied out, Rizzo and Zobrist both singled, as they did in the first inning, loading the bases with one out.
Dan Otero relieved Tomlin, and Russell greeted Otero with a blast into the center field bleachers for the first World Series grand slam in Cubs history, stretching the lead to 7-0.
“That was the hit of the night” Bryant said. “Anytime you get four runs on one swing, that’s huge.”
The most recent World Series grand slam was hit by Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox against the Houston Astros in Game 2 in 2005.
Indians pitchers allowed just five runs in the previous three games before giving up seven runs in the first three innings of Game 6.
That was plenty for Arrieta.
“When we were up 7-0 after three, I knew that was all I would need,” Arrieta said.
The Indians got an RBI single from Mike Napoli in the fourth inning and a solo home run by Kipnis in the fifth.
Rizzo hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning off reliever Mike Clevinger. Cleveland added a run in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single by Roberto Perez.MORE NEWS: Petition Calls For Atlanta Public Schools To Reverse Early Bell Change Schedule
NOTES: Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber, unable to play in the field in the three games in Wrigley Field following early season knee surgery, was in the lineup batting second as the DH in Game 6. He went 1-for-4 with a walk. … Indians pitchers came into Game 6 having struck out eight or more batters in 14 consecutive postseason games, dating back to the 2013 AL wild-card game. It was the longest such streak in postseason history, but it ended Tuesday. … Indians SS Francisco Lindor, who went 0-for-3, has 18 hits in the postseason, two shy of Sandy Alomar’s Cleveland record for most hits in a postseason. Alomar, the Indians’ current first base coach, set the mark in 1997. … Dennis Martinez, who won 12 games for the 1995 AL champion Indians, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 6.